8 West Point Books You've Probably Never Heard Of

CADET is a bi-annual magazine about West Point culture.
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Based in DC
@chrisWpestel @carolinepestel

Books, man. They're great. Bastions of knowledge, keepers of ideas, connectors of dots. This year the United States Military Academy at West Point celebrates its 215th birthday. The cumulative knowledge amassed over those 215 years is vast and nearly endless. In the past 6 months I started to follow a new blog called Execution Hollow, which details many nuggets of West Point lore pre-1900. Its a great blog and I love learning about the past. The place was so different then, yet so very much the same. 

Today we present a list of West Point books that may not be on your radar, most of which are highly visual in nature (we here at CADET have a penchant for the visual - in case you haven't noticed). I hope you enjoy this list. And if I missed a particularly interesting book, please let me know in the comments. 

Cadet Gray: A Pictorial History of Life at West Point as Seen Through Its Uniforms | COL Frederick P. Todd

From the now annual Army-Navy game football uniform unveil to the tried and true Dress Gray, West Point uniforms are a viable way the experience the history of one of America's most historic icons. Cadet Gray takes you on a journey ripe with knowledge any plebe should really be required to know...because you know, 'the Corps has.'

Cadet Gray of West Point

I jumped for joy the day I found this gem. I had just begun re-exploring the world of sequential art/comic books and was dying to get my hands on something West Point related. Unfortunately, this was the ONLY comic book I have come across. There must be more. If you know of others, please let me know in the comments. 

This comic traces the steps of a new cadet, Cadet Gray, entering Beast Barracks and his flashbacks to historic moments in American history and West Point's role in said moments. Just a few months after getting this bad-boy in the mail, I met an actual Cadet Gray at an Army Boxing exhibition I was photographing. 

West Point: The Life of a Cadet | Jack Engeman

Lots of good pictures of math problems, classroom endeavors and testosterone-only West Point pre-1976. Its a copious look at West Point, sure to bring you right back to Arvin Gym, physics and then transport you to another time when people wore 3-piece suits to college track meets. 

Officers and Gentlemen: Historic West Point in Photographs | Jeffrey Simpson

Another entry from the days WAAAAY before West Point went co-ed. It harkens back to Civil War and World War I era West Point. A great read and peek at that era - for the history buffs. 

The Corps of Cadets: A Year at West Point | Robert Stewart

This book was published in 1996. The pictures are pre-digital and they are awesome. Maybe your public library has a copy. Or, if you live in Wheaton, IL, you can come look at mine that used to be in your library. **it should be noted that I purchased this book fair and square.

Athlete/Warrior | Anderson & Low

These images were shot at some point leading up to my Firstie year (2002-2003) however the book was not published until 2005. I first encountered it at the Public Library in Columbia, SC in 2006-2007. As I flipped through it, I saw photo after photo of members of the class of 2003. I was blown away at the entirety of the book.

I bought Athlete / Warrior the next day on Amazon. Now that I think about it, it may have played a big role in why I became a photographer and why I want to spend so much time capturing the ethos of my Alma Mater, Dear.

I encourage you all to pick up a copy. There's no other West Point book like it. Sure, there are a few images that harken to a certain Buzz Feed article and there are too many images of Zoomies and Squids...but on the whole its a really great addition to your West Point library.

West Point | Marcia Lippman

Sometimes words fail us. That would be the case with me trying to describe this book. The images are otherworldly. I may write an entire blog post just on this book and the concept behind it. In 1985, for like 2 years, Marcia Lippman was West Point's Artist-in-Residence. If anyone out there can help Caroline Taft and myself to attain this role (which we are more than willing to accept), than this website will be amazing. AMAZE. ING. 

West Point Sketch Book | MAJ Ernie Webb + CPT John Hart + 1LT James Foley

The previous book might be my favorite on this list, but this is certainly a close second. While a cadet I kept notebooks. I doodled, wrote songs, sketched, created comics, wrote out guitar tabs...oh, and took class notes. I still have these treasures. I cherish them. Long before the days of photography, the Howitzer was filled with sketches and comics created by cadets. That unfolded into the cadet publication The Pointer - a cadet version of Mad Magazine

If you're jonesing for a look at counter-culture through the ranks of the Long Gray Line look no further than West Point Sketchbook. 

Written by Chris Pestel, USMA '03